Since the early 2000s, the number of deportations has increased significantly in the U.S. While numbers have been declining again under during the Trump administration, they reached their peak – conspicuously – under Obama in 2012 and 2013. This earned the former president the nickname deporter-in-chief, but those numbers only tell half the story.
In fact, there have been two competing systems of removing foreigners from the United States for a while: Formal deportations which need a court order and have a paper trail; and informal, so-called return, which basically means people caught crossing the border illegally are simply driven back across the border and dropped off there. Obama inherited a system of more formal immigration proceedings from his predecessor George W. Bush, who started the change over from thousands of returns to more formal deportations, also in connection with the founding of ICE, which is responsible for immigration enforcement
in the interior of the country, in 2003.The total number of people deported or returned from the U.S.
has been declining since the year 2000 and accelerated its downward trend during the recession. Economic progress in Mexico translated to a drop in Mexicans crossing the border. Now, immigrants from Central America, who are fewer in number, attempt to cross the southern U.S. border more frequently.